Two BYU linebackers, senior Justin Ena and sophomore Paul Walkenhorst, appeared on the preliminary list of 69 candidates for this year's Dick Butkus Award. The Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando, Inc. hands out the award every year to the nation's best collegiate linebacker.
The preliminary list will be trimmed to 10 semi-finalists on October 18. On November 8, three finalists will be announced. NFL Hall of Fame member and the award's namesake, Dick Butkus, will present the award to one of the three finalists December 7, 2001. This will be the 17th time the Butkus Award will be handed out.
As a junior in the 2000 season, Ena started all 12 games for the Cougars. Ena was named Chevrolet Player of the Game in last season's opener against Florida State. He recorded 49 unassisted tackles and 58 assisted tackles on the season. He also had three sacks, 11 tackles for loss and caused three fumbles. Ena is also listed as an All-America candidate for the 2001 season.
Injuries to Jeff Holtry and Josh Lowe forced Walkenhorst into 10 games of action in his freshman season. He totaled 24 assisted and 24 unassisted tackles on the season, including nine stops behind the line of scrimmage. In the UNLV game, he blocked a field goal attempt that proved to be the difference in BYU's 10-7 home victory. Walkenhorst will start at linebacker this season along with Ena and senior Isaac Kelley.
Ena and Walkenhorst join three other Mountain West Conference linebackers on the list. Sheldon Deckart and Jason Kaufusi from Utah and Jomar Butler from San Diego State round out the five MWC representatives.